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Harris v. Dillman

September 2, 2010

EDWARD E. HARRIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BARBARA DILLMAN, INDIVIDUALLY; TIMOTHY PAPPAS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY IN THE OFFICE OF THE SISKIYOU COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY; PETER F. KNOLL AND KIRK ANDRUS, BOTH INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS DISTRICT ATTORNEYS FOR THE COUNTY OF SISKIYOU, DEFENDANTS.*FN1



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING EACH DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON PLAINTIFF'S FEDERAL CLAIM AND DECLINING TO EXERCISE SUPPLEMENTAL JURISDICTION OVER PLAINTIFF'S REMAINING STATE LAW CLAIM*fn2

Defendants Timothy Pappas, Peter Knoll and Kirk Andrus (collectively, the "District Attorney Defendants") moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's remaining claims alleged in his third amended complaint. (Docket No. 59.) These Defendants also moved in the alternative for summary adjudication under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(b). The District Attorney Defendants' motion was scheduled to be heard on April 19, 2010. Plaintiff filed an untimely opposition in which he requested an order "vacating [the] hearing date" and "extending the discovery cutoff" date under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f).*fn3 (Pl.'s Memo. of P. & A. in Supp. of Mot. for Order Denying Defs.' Summ. J. Mot. 7.) Defendant Barbara Dillmann separately moved for summary judgment after the District Attorney Defendants filed their motion.*fn4 (Docket No. 68.) Plaintiff did not file an opposition to Dillmann's motion.

For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's request for a continuance under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f) will be denied and each Defendant's summary judgment motion on Plaintiff's federal claim will be granted. However, the portion of each motion seeking summary judgment on Plaintiff's state claim will not be decided because the Court declines to continue exercising supplemental jurisdiction over that claim and it will be dismissed without prejudice under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).

I. PLAINTIFF'S RULE 56(F) REQUEST

Plaintiff argues the District Attorney Defendants' motion should be denied, or alternatively, that the hearing date should be vacated and the discovery cutoff date extended under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f) ("Rule 56(f)"). Plaintiff contends if his continuance request is granted, he will "complete depositions of defendants Dillman[n,] . . . Pappas, Knoll and Andrus" and "will also take the deposition of Captain John Villani of the Siskiyou Count[y] Sheriff's office." (Pl.'s Memo. of P. & A. in Supp. of Mot. for Order Denying Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. 2:3-9.) Plaintiff argues relief under Rule 56(f) is warranted because counsel for the District Attorney Defendants "interfer[ed] with plaintiff in setting depositions and securing discoverable documents . . . ." (Id. 2:10-12.) Plaintiff also argues his Rule 56(f) request should be granted because at Gina Villani's April 1, 2010 deposition, it was "revealed that [Gina's father,] Captain John Villani of the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department[,] was a critical link between Pappas and Andrus and Dillmann." (Id. 3:24-26.) Plaintiff contends that "Captain Villani must also be deposed." (Id. 4:6-7.)

Plaintiff's argument that he needs more discovery to oppose the motion disregards the discovery completion date in the scheduling order. The Rule 16 scheduling order issued in this case prescribes that the parties were to "complete" discovery by April 2, 2010, seventeen days prior to the scheduled April 19, 2010 hearing date for the District Attorney Defendants' summary judgment motion. The scheduling order explains: "In this context, 'completed' means that all discovery shall have been conducted so that all depositions have been taken and any disputes relative to discovery shall have been resolved by appropriate orders, if necessary, and, where discovery has been ordered, the order has been complied with or, alternatively, the time allowed for such compliance shall have expired." (Docket No. 29 at 2.) Since Plaintiff's Rule 56(f) request seeks additional discovery after the passing of the discovery completion date, amendment of the Rule 16 scheduling order is a prerequisite to granting Plaintiff's Rule 56(f) request. See In re Imperial Credit Indus., Inc. Secs. Lit., 252 F. Supp. 2d 1005, 1017 (C.D. Cal. 2003) (stating that "[t]o grant Plaintiffs' Rule 56(f) request would . . . require the Court to extend the discovery cut-off in this action and thus modify the scheduling order").

Under Rule 16(b), "[t]he district court may modify the pretrial schedule if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension." Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 608 (9th Cir. 1992). Since Rule 16(b)'s good cause standard focuses on the diligence of the party seeking amendment, "[i]f th[e] party was not diligent, the inquiry should end" and the request for modification of the scheduling order denied. Id.

Therefore, before deciding whether to consider the merits of Plaintiff's Rule 56(f) motion, the issue is reached whether Plaintiff has satisfied his burden of showing that "good cause" justifies amending the discovery completion date prescribed in the Rule 16 scheduling order. A district court is authorized to decline considering a Rule 56(f) request, in the situation faced here, where Plaintiff "should have [first] sought an extension of the discovery cutoff date . . . but did not do so." Saavedra v. Murphy Oil U.S.A., Inc., 930 F.2d 1104, 1107 (5th Cir. 1991)).

Plaintiff has not adequately explained why he did not complete the discovery he now seeks before the discovery completion date. Although Plaintiff argues that the District Attorney Defendants' counsel obstructed Plaintiff's discovery efforts, Plaintiff fails to explain why he did not timely litigate this referenced discovery dispute before the Magistrate Judge as required by the scheduling order and the Eastern District's Local Rule 302(c)(1). The district court is not required to consider a discovery matter which Plaintiff "failed to [timely] prosecute . . . before the magistrate judge as required by E.D. Cal. Local Rule [302(c)] and the court's [scheduling] order." Freeman v. Allstate Life Ins. Co., 253 F.3d 533, 537 (9th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff, therefore, has not shown that good cause justifies amending the discovery completion provision in the scheduling order.

Moreover, even if the merits of Plaintiff's Rule 56(f) request were decided, Plaintiff has not demonstrated he is entitled to relief under Rule 56(f). Rule 56(f) provides that "[i]f a party opposing [summary judgment] . . . shows by affidavit that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition, the court may: (1) deny the motion; (2) order a continuance to enable affidavits to be obtained, depositions to be taken, or other discovery to be undertaken; or (3) issue any other just order." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f). Therefore, to receive relief under Rule 56(f), the moving party "must show (1) that [he] ha[s] set forth in affidavit form the specific facts that [he] hope[s] to elicit from further discovery, (2) that the facts sought exist, and (3) that these sought-after facts are 'essential' to resist the summary judgment motion." State of Cal. ex. rel. Cal. Dep't of Toxic Substances Control v. Campbell, 138 F.3d 772, 779 (9th Cir. 1991).

Plaintiff has neither identified "the specific facts [he] hopes to elicit from further discovery", nor how the "sought-after facts are essential to resist the summary judgment motion" or demonstrated that such facts "exist." Id. The transcript from Gina Villani's deposition provided by Plaintiff does not suggest that John Villani, if deposed, would provide evidence establishing a conspiracy among the Defendants. Nor has Plaintiff explained why the other discovery he seeks is essential to his opposition to the summary judgment motion.

For the stated reasons, Plaintiff's request for an extension of the discovery completion date and for relief under Rule 56(f) is denied.

II. LEGAL STANDARD ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If this burden is satisfied, "the non-moving party must set forth, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in [Federal] Rule [of Civil Procedure] 56, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987) (quotations and citation omitted) (emphasis in original). This requires that the non-moving party "come forward with facts, and not allegations, [that] controvert the moving party's case." Town House, Inc. v. Paulino, 381 F.2d 811, 814 (9th Cir. 1967) ...


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